Purpose in Life, Satisfaction with Life, and Suicide Ideation in a Clinical Sample

Abstract

This study examined the role of purpose in life and satisfaction with life in protecting against suicide ideation in a clinical psychiatric sample. Forty-nine psychiatric patients completed self-report measures of suicide ideation, purpose in life, satisfaction with life, neuroticism, depression, and social hopelessness. Zero-order correlations indicated significant associations between suicide ideation and the various predictors, in the hypothesized directions. Regression analyses illustrated that purpose in life and satisfaction with life accounted for significant additional variability in suicide ideation scores above and beyond that accounted for by the negative psychological factors alone. Purpose in life also mediated the relation between satisfaction with life and suicide ideation and moderated the relation between depression and suicide ideation. These findings demonstrate the potential value of attending to both resilience and pathology when building predictive models of suicide ideation and of attending to key existential themes when assessing and treating suicidal individuals.

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Correspondence to Marnin J. Heisel.

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Heisel, M.J., Flett, G.L. Purpose in Life, Satisfaction with Life, and Suicide Ideation in a Clinical Sample. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 26, 127–135 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOBA.0000013660.22413.e0

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  • suicide
  • ideation
  • depression
  • hopelessness
  • meaning
  • purpose